Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ecological Hedge Trimmers

On the 13th September we took delivery of four female French Alpine goats with their main remit being to eat some of our out-of-control bramble 'hedges'.

Here is the new goat house that Ben had part constructed, due for completion 'in the field'. Ben reckoned that Little Red Tractor would be the best way to move it out there, I thought not.

In the end it was a combination of both people power and tractor power that got it out to the allocated slot. Our thanks go to Mim, Kiera, Andy and Sarah for loaning their muscles. The goats have been named after them (except we had to do a slight alteration on 'Andy' and the name became Mandy).

The goats arrived in a camper van 'les chevres en vacances' and seemed to quite like their new home - for a week! Then we discovered that they quite liked being next to the pigs for company and that was sort of OK, but then they abandoned their own house and took over the pig house and wouldn't let the pigs in, even when it was pouring with rain. This clearly was not acceptable so they have had to be moved into the big sloping field next to the boys' woodhouse.

A secondary contribution is that maybe next year they will go into kid and we will get a little milk from them. We would of course keep the babies with their mums but realise that this may reduce the amount of milk we get (if any). It is one of the sad, sad sides of dairying that milking mammals (except humans) have to have offspring annually in order to produce milk (almost - some goats have been known to 'milk through' for two years). Those offspring are normally removed at birth in order to get the most milk from the mother. That is an awful sad distressing noise to hear the pair calling for each other all day and all night. Frequently the babies are 'disposed' of. This is one of the reasons that I can't quite come to terms with vegetarianism on the grounds of not wanting animals to die in order for the food to be on the plate - animals are still being killed in order to produce the milk, cheese, eggs etc that form part of a vegetarian diet. I can understand the vegan stance here. Our family however are choosing to be responsibly sustainable omnivores.

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